Following is a question-and-answer session between Mel Kiper Jr. and Florida offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker. A junior, Walker has declared for the NFL draft.
Mel Kiper Jr.: If you had to step back and become an NFL scout for a minute, how would you assess Kenyatta Walker's ability as a football player?
Kenyatta Walker: I pride myself on being real aggressive, working hard every day in practice to improve my skills and playing every game with a tremendous amount of intensity. I really love the game. I'm young and still have some improving to do. I can definitely become a better player. I'm lifting everyday, always working on doing whatever it takes to maximize my ability on the football field. I feel I'm extremely coachable and a very hard worker. In the NFL, I feel I will be a very positive influence both on and off the field.
Kiper: With your dedication and attention to detail, I'm sure you did your homework when it came to the decision to leave Florida and enter the NFL draft.
||On game day, you have to be nasty. Remember, the player on the other side of the ball is trying to do everything in his power to win the battle and embarrass you. I'm not about to let that happen. ”
||— Kenyatta Walker
Walker: Definitely. I talked with my coaches, my family, and decided that the time was right for me to move on to the NFL.
Kiper: At Florida, you worked at right tackle, but there is no questioning the fact that you have the necessary skills to operate effectively at left tackle in the NFL. Tell me about any experience you have on the left side.
Walker: Yes, I've been primarily a right tackle at Florida, but I played left tackle in high school and also worked at left tackle during fall practice this past August. At the time, I was filling in for Mike Pearson, who was injured. I really feel comfortable at both right and left tackle.
Kiper: In addition to playing left tackle in football, what other sports did you compete in during your high school career in Mississippi?
Walker: I was a center in basketball and also played soccer, and participated in track (shot put and discus) as well. Football, though, has always been my favorite sport.
Kiper: Even though you played in a wide-open offense at Florida, you take great pride in your ability to move defenders off the line of scrimmage and accentuate the running game.
Walker: Yes, I do. Right now, I feel I'm a good run blocker, but this is an area where I will always keep striving to show improvement. I keep working every day on my technique.
Kiper: Tell me about your daily workout routine.
Walker: I'm ready to go every day at 7 a.m. We stretch at 7:15, then eat breakfast from 7:30 to 8:15. From 8:15 to around 11 a.m., we go through our regular workout. Afterwards, we meet with our position coaches. At noon we have lunch, then rest until 3. We work out again, then meet with our position coaches between 5 and 6. In my case, this is with former NFL offensive line coach Tom Breshnahan.
Kiper: Where do the workouts take place?
Walker: In Bradenton, Florida at the International Performance Institute. Steve Hutchinson and Maurice Williams are also at the workouts. This past Sunday and Monday, gold-medal winner Michael Johnson was down here working in conjunction with the speed program.
Kiper: How much did playing in the talent-laden SEC prepare you for the NFL?
Walker: There is no question that the SEC is the best conference in the nation. Every game is huge. Look at South Carolina. We had a real fight on our hands with them for the division. Every game presents a new set of challenges. I'm used to going one-on-one with defensive ends who are both strong and fast. I really believe strongly that the experience I gained working against great players will help me at the next level.
Kiper: What really impresses me, Kenyatta, is not only your athletic and physical skills, but the fact that you have proven to be such a durable performer. Have you ever had any major injuries during your football career?
Walker: I've been very blessed. I've really never had any problem with injuries.
Kiper: You are a class act and such a pleasure to talk with; tell me about your demeanor on the football field.
Walker: On game day, you have to be nasty. Remember, the player on the other side of the ball is trying to do everything in his power to win the battle and embarrass you. I'm not about to let that happen. It's either him or me, and I plan on winning every battle. One thing I don't want to see happen is for any defensive player to get a hit on my QB.
Kiper: You stated earlier that every game in the SEC proved to be such a challenge. With that in mind, was there a defensive end in the SEC that you knew going in you would have to bring your "A" game in order to contain?
Walker: Florida State always has a outstanding pair of defensive ends to deal with, but the two that come to mind are John Abraham (South Carolina) and Shaun Ellis (Tennessee). They were outstanding. Really, though, in the SEC, you have to be mentally and physically prepared to get the job done at a high level every week.
Kiper: What was it like to play for Steve Spurrier?
Walker: He's a real good coach. He's strictly business. You either get the job done or he'll find somebody else. This definitely gets all of us ready for the real world. Playing for coach Spurrier proved to be a tremendous learning experience.
Kiper: Growing up, did you follow the NFL closely and was their a team or player you focused on more than any other?
Walker: I followed the NFL very closely. I love football. Playing in the NFL will be a dream come true. Not everyone playing the game has the chance to move on to the NFL. I'm truly blessed and very excited about getting my career in the NFL started. I'm ready to get into a system and strap on the pads. I grew up a San Francisco 49er fan, paying close attention to Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. They were the team to beat.
Kiper: Is their a particular team you would like to be selected by come April 21?
Walker: I'll play anywhere, and I hope to go as high as possible in the draft.